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Man sitting on beach with dog in sun

Roam: The best dog friendly beaches for summer fun

Dogs make a good vacation even better, and more than half of pet owners in the US don’t leave home without them. When you’re packing your flip flops and sunscreen for the beach this summer, don’t forget the most important take-along: your four-legged friend!

The beach isn’t just a popular with humans: It’s also a great place for pups to plunge into the waves, run along the shore, and then shake and do it all again. Here are the best dog beaches for enjoying the sand and surf with your pooch:

California Shores

Huntington Dog Beach, Huntington Beach

This dog beach relies on donations to provide doggie waste bags, and on volunteers to keep the it clean. Since you’re required to tidy up after your pet anyway, you can help by bringing your own bags. Then enjoy the beach seven days a week, dawn to dark, with your leashed pup. Check the website to see when photographers will be available to make pictures of your pet, and he or she could appear in next year’s Huntington Dog Beach Calendar.

Arroyo Burro Beach Park, Santa Barbara

Also known as Hendry’s Beach, this half-mile of sandy shoreline is great for surfing, swimming and picnicking. Open 8 a.m. to sunset, it’s the only Santa Barbara beach that allows dogs to go off-leash in designated areas.

Fun in Florida

Dog Beach, Fort Myers Beach

Doggie shower stations make this pretty beach in southwest Florida a standout. But it does have a tidal flat, so check a schedule of tides before you go to enjoy the ocean. Pets can run unleashed from 7 a.m. until dusk, seven days a week. A portable toilet is available for pet owners, but there are no on-site restrooms.

Waves in Washington

Double Bluff Beach and Dog Park, on south Whidbey Island, has an off-leash park where dogs can play, as well as outdoor showers, restrooms and a picnic area. It also offers stunning views of Mt. Rainier. Note: the locals usually have a big fireworks show on the Fourth of July, so head home early if the explosions will scare your pup.

Georgia’s Island Gems

Jekyll Island is a barrier island, and one in a group known as Georgia’s Golden Isles. Dogs are permitted on most of its beaches. South Beach is the exception, to protect nesting sea turtles and migratory seabirds. Some of Jekyll’s beaches are inaccessible at high tide, so plan to visit during low tide. Tip: Driftwood Beach, on the north end of Jekyll, allows leashed pets year-round, and it’s a beautiful place to make pictures of your dog checking out half-buried pieces of driftwood on the shore.

Coastal Connecticut

Dogs can visit 27-acre Jennings Dog Beach, in Fairfield, in the winter season (check the website for dates). When the sun goes down, you and your pup can hang around and warm up around a bonfire in the sand. Just to be sure to reserve a fire ring in advance, because they’re very popular. This is the only beach in Fairfield that lets your dog run freely, as long as you keep him in sight and under voice control.

Lynn Coulter is owned by two rescue dogs—Molly and Miss Paws—and occasionally blogs at She’s also the author of three books and a freelancer who writes about travel, gardening and more. She and her husband live in metro Atlanta, where they cheer for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and spend their money on dog biscuits.

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